From the S&S archives:Allies pitch in to aid visitors from East
BERLIN — A blond East German child walked up to Pfc. Rick Hayden Sunday morning and politely asked him for a bowl of soup. As he handed into her, he glanced around the room of mostly young East Germans talking quietly. and filling out forms at the refugee processing center.
"They're all like that, real polite," Hayden said.
The 21-year-old infantryman from Asbury, Mo., spent his Sunday on the serving line set up two days earlier by the Berlin Brigade's 6th Bn.
The soup kitchen was just one of the responses by Allied forces to requests for help by the West Berlin. government.
On Saturday. the Allies also provided 1,000 blankets. On Sunday morning, two train cars packed with cots and blankets donated by the Allies arrived with the U.S. Army's duty train to the city.
Nearly 5.000 of the estimated 1.5 million East Germans visiting West Berlin since Thursday, when the country's borders were opened, initially said they wanted to stay in the West. according to government figures.
However, on Sunday only 200 declared that intention. and officials believe that many of the nearly 5.000 already have returned home. Those staying join more than 30.000 refugees living in crowded emergency shelters throughout the city.
Standing next to Hayden in the serving line at the former factory in the Marienfelde district was Spec. Jody Hollis. a 20-year-old infantryman from Livermore. Calif.
"I thought the people would he different, but they're real nice," he said. here have been a couple of people come up and try to pay me for the soup and brötchen. They can't believe it's free."
And Hollis is pleased to help any way he can.
"When we're walking by all the people lined up outside, they all turn and look at you and you can't help but have a big smile on your face. I'll be here as long as they need me."
Hollis and Hayden, both wearing camouflage battle. dress uniforms, were working in the second of two soup kitchens run by the Americans at the processing centers. Since the first opened Oct. 7, the Americans have provided more than 70,000 servings to refugees, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Comd. Berlin.
The brigade's 5th Bn and 6th Bn have been rotating duties at the centers. Over the weekend, cooks from the 6th Bn headquarters were assisted by soldiers from Co A.
Down the line. Francia Ramirez from Bogota. Colombia. cheerfully served coffee and juice and smiled at each of the refugees. Her husband, Staff Sgt. Steven Ramirez, is a cook working at the processing center. She came along when he was given the job of helping run the operation.
"I just want to help these people," she -said. "This is a very nice part of history."
The tide of refugees to West Berlin in the past two months is straining the city's relief system. according to Ingrid Stahmer. the city's senator for health and social affairs. Refugees are packed into gymnasiums, exhibition halls and temporary shelters.
The Allies have provided hundreds of beds and office furniture for the emergency shelters and several tents and heaters for the processing centers, according to U.S. Army Lt. Col. Tom Watts, the Allied Staff logistics officer.
This week, they will donate labor and materials to help renovate several German and military buildings into living quarters, he said.
In Heidelberg. a U.S. Army Europe task force continued work on a list of its facilities that could be used to temporarily house East Germans who have flooded into the West since August.
USAREUR spokesman Jim Boyle said the group is working around the clock to complete work on the list that West German officials can use to house some of the thousands of East German refugees entering the country. Preliminary plans call for refugees to stay no longer than two weeks at any of the Army facilities.
Boyle gave no indication of when the task force would complete its work.
U.S. Air Forces Europe already has opened a contingency hospital in Donaueschingen. about 40 miles cast of Freiburg, to the East Germans.
It also has offered the use of the Air Force contingency hospital at Zweibrücken and the former French housing units at Bitburg, which is controlled by the Air Force.